Laser Level Buying Guide for Woodworkers | Basic Woodworking Tools

A laser level is a time-saving tool that woodworkers will truly appreciate. A laser level is a construction tool used for determining an accurate level reference. It is used for relatively small tasks such as making sure portraits are hanged properly, installing tiles, ceilings, railing, and even monumental tasks such as installing sewer pipes. For woodworkers both full-time and hobbyist, a laser level tool will help greatly during the measurement process.

When it comes to buying a laser level you will need to consider what your needs are as well as your budget. The size of your workplace will also be a major factor when choosing a laser level. I have made a guideline below to help you better determine the type of laser level tool that will suit all your needs.

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Buying a Laser Level

First and foremost, you need to decide as to what projects you will be needing your laser level for. For woodworkers who will usually be working on lumber, a longer laser level is a good choice as it will deliver more accurate measurements. Different laser levels also offer different features. You can find ones that are magnetic which allow for hands-free operation when used on metal surfaces. You can also find laser levels that act as both straight edge and ruler. There are even laser levels that come pre-installed with lights.

Understanding the different types of laser levels in the market is imperative to make an informed decision. With that, let me introduce you to the three primary types of laser level that is currently available today.

Single Line Laser Level

Huepar Self-Leveling Green Laser Level 360 Cross Line with 2 Plumb Dots Laser Tool -360-Degree Horizontal Line Plus Large Fan Angle of Vertical Beam with Up & Down Points -Magnetic Pivoting Base 621CG
Self-Leveling Laser Level 360 Cross Line with 2 Plumb Dots (Image: Amazon)

This is the standard laser level tool. It is a simple and affordable tool that offers the basic features you would expect from a laser level. You operate it manually and it uses spirit levels that are installed into its design. You simply switch the laser on which then gives you level line visibility of up to a couple of feet.

You can find single line laser levels with several features such as suction cups which help in making sure they are secured in place. Some models utilize tacks as well to make sure the stay steady. You can also find ones that are designed to look like standard torpedo levels with the lasers located on both or one side.

Single line laser levels are commonly used when aligning painting or portraits on the wall, for taping off paint lines, and for basic woodworking projects.

Cross-Line Laser Level

Tacklife SC-L01-50 Feet Laser Level Self-Leveling Horizontal and Vertical Cross-Line Laser - Magnetic Mount Base and Carrying Pouch, Battery Included
Self-Leveling Horizontal and Vertical Cross-Line Laser (Image: Amazon)

The cross-line laser level operates using two perpendicular lines; a horizontal and vertical line. The cross-line laser level is often used when installing ceilings, tiles, framing, decking, cabinetry, and millwork. While most cross-line laser levels being sold today are auto-leveling, there are still models that require manual operation of leveling.

I highly suggest you look for ones that offer the auto-leveling feature while also allowing you to operate it manually. The reason for this is that auto-leveling cross-line laser levels make it impossible to measure slopes and angles. If you can turn off the auto-leveling feature then measuring angles will be considerably easier and simpler.

Rotary Laser Level

Johnson Level & Tool 99-006K Self Leveling Rotary Laser System Kit, Soft Shell Carrying Case, Alkaline Battery, Tripod, Mounting Bracket, 13ft Grade Rod, Magnetic Target, Protective Glasses
Rotary Laser System Kit (Image: Amazon)

Rotary laser levels utilize a single laser that spins around in a leveled 360 degree. This type of laser level offers the highest visibility range that reaches up to 50 feet and over 100 feet if you use a receiver with it. As this laser level can operate of up to a range of 50+ feet, it is designed for use in outdoor constructions or in excavations. If you are a woodworker and primarily focuses on lumber and small interior workspaces you can skip over this type of laser level.

Basic Laser Level Features

Laser levels have several features, with some being a disadvantage for a specific use which is why I can’t stress enough the importance of having a good grasp of these features.

Manual-Leveling Laser – This is the traditional way of operating the laser level. You will need to manually turn the screws until a level unit is acquired when you check the bubble vials. Obviously, this type will be less convenient but it does have its advantages, specifically when leveling slopes and angles.

Auto Leveling Laser – As the name implies, this feature allows the tool to self-level on its own. This type of laser level will need you to do a rough leveling after which it can take over and do the fine leveling itself. Some also automatically turn itself off when they suddenly drop out of level by 5%. This is quite helpful to warn you when it is not leveled due to being accidentally moved.  

Horizontal Laser – This will only emit a single horizontal beam.

Split Beam Laser – This is found in cross-line laser level units and emits two laser beams; horizontal and vertical. This is ideal when setting up tiles on the floor or installing and repairing the ceiling.

Receivers – As we have discussed earlier, rotary level laser offers up to 50 feet of laser visibility range. You can expand this to over 100 feet with the help of receivers. It operates using visual or audio cues. You will either use an LCD screen that displays measurements or the beeping sounds emitted by the device. For audio cues, detectors will have a faster beeping sound if you need to move the detector down and a slower tone if you need to tilt it up.

Conclusion

Choosing the right laser level to accommodate all your needs will require a keen eye for detail. The last thing you want is to have a laser level that is underqualified for the project you need, having an overqualified one is also something you need to avoid, budget-wise. Hopefully, this article has helped you figure out what type and features you need in your laser level tool. A laser level tool is an essential tool for woodworkers and it’s okay to invest in a high-quality laser level as it will undoubtedly make your job much easier.

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